9 Illegal Interview Questions to Look Out For

Posted February 20, 2019, by Kristina Mitic

Job interviews can be daunting, even for the most experienced. When your main task is putting your best foot forward, it can be difficult to know when to hold back in answering interview questions.

Some potential employers will try to take advantage of a candidate’s nerves, asking tricky questions. While these questions are hard to answer, there’s usually a way to navigate them.

But, what happens when an interviewer asks a downright illegal question? How should you behave and how to recognise that a question is violating your rights?

Well, here’s a list of the most common illegal interview questions to prepare you better.

Are you married? Do you have plans to get married soon?

No matter how nice the interviewer or how it seems like they’re just trying to get to know you better, this line of questioning is most certainly illegal.

Not only does it fall under pregnancy discrimination, it also probes into your sexual orientation – and both are definite no-no’s.

Know that you’re not obliged to reveal any information related to your personal life.

Do you have children?

This question usually goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. The interviewer is trying to gauge what other responsibilities you may have. For example, if you have toddlers, the chances of you taking days off is higher than if you have teens.

This is exactly why this question is illegal. Having children or planning to have children doesn’t affect your work performance and this line of questioning should be nipped in the bud.

Are you religious?

Maybe it seems like the interviewer is being nice, trying to be accommodating of your needs for days off – but this is simply none of the company’s business. If you’re able perform your task to their satisfaction, it really doesn’t matter what you believe.

This question is firmly in the illegal column, as it opens a path to religious discrimination.

How old are you?

In a personal interview, the employer will have a chance to guess your age based on your appearance or do the maths based on graduation dates etc on your resume. They are not allowed to openly ask you how old you are, just like they are not allowed to discriminate against you based on your age.

When you are qualified for the position, it doesn’t really matter if you’re 42 or 22.

Where are you from?

You might not know this, but nationality discrimination is a pretty big thing. So big in fact, that laws have been put in place so that hiring staff can’t legally ask you what country you come from. Similarly, they can’t ask you if English is your first language.

As long as you have a legal permit to work in Australia, your country of origin is a personal matter.

Have you ever been arrested?

An interviewer can ask you if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, which can affect your possibilities of getting hired, depending on the crime in question. For instance, if you were convicted of theft, you might have issues getting a job that involves directly handling money.

However, employers can’t legally ask you if you have ever been arrested.

How are your finances?

The state of your finances should not concern your employer. Whether or not you have outstanding debt, loans or trillions of dollars – if you can do the job right, it doesn’t matter.

Some other things that fall into this line of questioning are if you rent or own property, and how good are you at balancing your budget.

Are you currently employed?

There’s no real reason to ask this, apart from maybe seeing when you’d be able to start on a new job. You can always list your first available starting date, without really answering the question.

Employers are legally not allowed to discriminate against anyone employed, unemployed or on benefits.

Do you have any injuries or illnesses?

This can be a legitimate question for physical jobs: if you need to work construction, a bad back can be a hindrance.

That being said, under all other conditions, a probe into your health is strictly illegal. The employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because of any disability you might have. as long as you are able to do the job.


How to answer illegal interview questions?

Well, it can be hard to simply refuse to answer, especially when you really want the job. But, what if you sense that a question might be entering the illegal territory?

Your best bet is politely declining to answer. After all, the right person for the job has all the experience and qualifications: no amount of personal information revealed changes that.

If it has nothing to do with the listed position you’re interviewing for, you don’t have to answer.

Most employers will move away from this line of questioning once they see you’re uncomfortable.

Kristina Mitic

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